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The New Zealand Herald gave the album four out of four stars upon the album 2009 release,  noting that Q-Tip "came up with something timeless then – and nine years on it sounds fresh, inventive and cosmic", and adding that the album has a "unique coolness to it and it still sounds ahead of its time in 2009".  However, Robert Christgau named it "dud of the month" in his consumer guide for MSN Music , in which he wrote that most of the tracks are musically incomplete and, "in the narrow sense of rhythm tracks, the beats have some ass to them, but as music they revert to fusion kitsch whenever the artiste sees an opening".  Pitchfork critic David Drake commented that " Kamaal the Abstract is not a great record by any means. But it is an interesting one, a unique effort by an artist struggling to mesh [jazz and hip hop]", viewing that "each track is a loose framework of unfulfilled promise".  William Grant of Drowned in Sound viewed that it "seems a bit aimless at times", but ultimately praised its diverse sound and gave it an eight out of 10 rating.  Dave Heaton of PopMatters commented that the album is "mainly about feeling. There’s no storytelling meat to the songs, less wit, not much of Q-Tip’s creative approach to language. It’s mostly about riding the groove, and that Q-Tip does well".